Archive for the 'Book Picked Me' Category

H is for Hawk

Thoughts hifhbyhm H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald, Random House Audio 2014, 11 hours 6 minutes

I’m already declaring this a TOP READ/LISTEN for 2015!

Anonymous Interviewer aka AI: Care, how did you come to read this?

Care: I saw a tweet announcing it as an Audible special for $2.99. Since, I knew I had only a few hours left of my current audiobook and lots of days left in the month to await my next credit, I jumped.

AI: Did you know anything about it? Had you read any good reviews?

Care: Excellent question because no, I didn’t really know much about it but yes, I do think I had read positive things? I DID know that the title fits the What’s in a Name Challenge for the animal category, so it has that going for it.

AI: I thought you were going to read Elegance of the Hedgehog for WiaN8.

Care: So did I, but it just kept getting passed over by my mood to read something else. I do hope to read Hedgehog someday but maybe not anytime soon, I guess.

AI: So what’s the Hawk book about?

Care: H is for Hawk is a fascinating overlapping memoir — and more! It is part nature book, falconry how-to book, grief exploration book and part biography of TH White, the author of The Once and Future King.

AI: So this is memoir?

Care: Yes, nonfiction. (I admit, I didn’t know this until after I started listening to the book.)

AI: Tell us about the author.

Care: Sure, and I first must say if I haven’t already, that the author does an EXCELLENT job narrating her own book.

AI: Is this unusual?

Care: What, that authors narrate their own books or that they actually do this successfully?

AI: Yea, that.

Care: I think Neil Gaiman is one author that does a great job and I have found that entertainers such as comedians always seem to do a very good job narrating their own books, but I can’t say that Donna Tartt pulled off a successful narration. (I did manage to listen all the way to the end of the 16 hour plus audio of The Secret History! YAY ME.)

Care: May I interrupt to give a NEVERWHERE READALONG SHOUT OUT? Nancy is doing a readalong if anyone has ever wanted to read this – I highly recommend the audiobook. My review is here.

AI: Do you have a button to share or maybe a hashtag for Twitter?

Care: As a matter of fact, I do know the hashtag #NeverwhereRAL, but I don’t know about a button. And if you click on the words a few sentences ago about the readalong shout out, you’ll open a window at Nancy’s blog…

AI: OK, tell us more about Helen Macdonald.

Care: Ms. Macdonald, a British naturalist writer, is a college professor who has also been interested in falconry since a very young age. There is also a terrific photo of Mabel on her blog (which may or may not be active; it looks like the events might be for 2014, a year done passed.)

AI: Um, Mabel? Who is Mabel?

Care: Mabel is her goshawk! Macdonald says in her book that if you give a goshawk a mild meek-sounding name, they usually turn out to be terrific hunters! (and vice versa.) Here’s a photo of another goshawk that I found on the internet:

goshawk <– Sindbad the Goshawk, photo credit to The International Falconry Forum

AI: To be totally honest, this book sounds not only boring but slightly depressing, even with a lovely named bird like Mabel.

Care: And you would be wrong. This book is delightful. It has ALL the feelings. Sure, it is about how she went through the stages of grief after losing her father but it also has many funny almost comic moments – also, angry and frightening. Her writing is beautiful, provocative. She is known as a naturalist writer for good reason. She is just an excellent writer! She is smart, she is tender, she is strong, she is brave and she shares every bit of it with eloquence.

And you learn about so much stuff that you didn’t even know you wanted to know about. THAT is a great book.Helen Macdonald

AI: Care to share a quote or two?


“And I found there were myriad definitions of this thing called tragedy that had wormed its way through the history of literature; and the simplest of all was this: that it is the story of a figure who, through some moral flaw or personal failing, falls through force of circumstance to his doom.”

AI: I have nothing else to ask, maybe your readers will have more questions. This concludes this audiobook review presentation interrogation. Thank you.

Care: Thank YOU.


Copyright © 2007-2015. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.


Thoughts gbydd : How Newport Became America’s Richest Resort by Deborah Davis, John Wiley & Sons 2009, 309 pages

Bookblurb from goodreads:

A beautifully written history of high society in Newport, Rhode Island, from the acclaimed author of Party of the Century. Newport is the legendary and beautiful home of American aristocracy and the sheltered super-rich. Many of the country’s most famous blueblood families – the closest thing we have to royalty – have lived and summered in Newport since the nineteenth century. The Astors, the Vanderbilts, Edith Wharton, JFK and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Doris Duke, and Claus and Sunny von Bulow are just a few of the many names who have called the city home. Gilded takes you along as you explore the fascinating heritage of the Newport elite, from its first colonists to the newest of its new millennium millionaires, showing the evolution of a town intent on living in its own world. Through a narrative filled with engrossing characters and lively tales of untold extravagance, Davis brings the resort to life and uncovers the difference between rich and Newport rich along the way.

WHY I read this:  I was SO looking forward to walking to the Island Book Store in Newport because I like independent bookstores and I knew exactly which book I would buy once I got there: Newport by Jill Morrow (pub’d in July)  but AGHAST! They didn’t  have it! So, the wonderful staff suggested I read Gilded instead. Thinking that I hadn’t read any nonfiction in too long, I bought it.

The private beach for the richest of the set.

The private beach for the richest of the set.

What’s it ABOUT: The description above is right on. It mentions everyone who is everyone and also discusses the decades since the real hey-days when the mansions were being built and even shares about the ‘current’ Newportians (well, to pub date). I didn’t know much about the Tennis Club nor how the Jazz Festival got its start, so I learned alot! I have read a couple of books on the Vanderbilts but not much else outside of the sphere of the mansion-tour-brochures. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to visit any more mansions on this latest trip but I WILL! I will – next time. I love Newport.

Current goings-on…   You all know who Larry Ellison is, right? Oracle Computers? He bought the Beechwood Mansion and seems to be TOTALLY restoring the thing!  I was told that he is having to LIFT it and pour a new foundation.


And who among you has an Alex & Ani bracelet? I sadly did not even venture into their flagship store but supposedly they (the fam) is busy restoring Belcourt Castle (first built as a bachelor pad for a rich dude and his horses but then he married Alva Vanderbilt after her divorce blahblahblah…). I didn’t take any photos of this apparently – hard to do when walking two energetic dogs.

b0bbacf1-9a0f-4065-9362-5c2ec51f8e14 7a039b5f-f189-4dfb-ba1a-04b3b06fbc70 78058831-63f9-4f2d-b791-96805da54180

What’s GOOD: OK, I really am NOT much of a follower of the now rich and famous (probably because they are good at hiding and I don’t watch much TV so I miss a lot) but I really am glad that they (the oldies) built some amazing buildings and that Newport is sharing them with us. I can’t help it! I love beautiful amazing buildings.


The home of Doris Duke.

Sidenote: Just watched the movie Into the Storm with Brendan Gleeson as Winston Churchill and if you know anything about that guy, you know his mom was American. But it was a cousin of his that had to marry a Vanderbilt in order to get the money to restore (aka “save from ruin”) Blenheim PALACE! Crazy wild stuff – the aristocracy of Britain and THEIR amazing architectural treasures. I found it all so very freaking fascinating, I do.

What’s NOT so good: Not enough photos in the book! and it jumps around a bit, I got confused who was who and when more times than I can count, but still a fun read.

FINALLY: If you ask me if I could go back in history, I would love to be one of the best friends – thus in the same social class but not quite always in the papers – with this crowd in the late 1800s, through the turn of the century and and into the roaring 20s. Travel! Champagne! Excess to the excess! Parties parties parties!  ah… Would have LOVED to have seen it. In other words, don’t send me back to that time period to be a scullery maid.

RATING: Four slices of pie. (no pie was mentioned as far as I managed to note, anyway.)


Copyright © 2007-2015. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

RIP to the TENTH

Congratulations to all the RIP-ers who have participated each and every year! I have not but always want to? How’s that for being wicked?

AND on that thought, or coincidentally, . . .

I found myself listening to many Wicked songs from my Broadway Tunes Pandora channel and remarked to somebody that I probably should read Wicked by Gregory Maguire. Honestly, I didn’t even have the book on my tbr at goodreads (a few of  you are shocked knowing how many books ARE on my tbr at goodreads (1528))

and then this somebody person brought me the book to read.

Well, darn.

Since I hadn’t yet pulled The Elegance of the Hedgehog off my shelf to be the next physical book to read, I started Wicked.


This morning, I realized that Wicked would totally count for RIP and so here I am blogging a post about it.

Here’s the badge; it links to the official site and host: rip10500  <– designed by Abigail Larson.

Here is a possible list of other books I may or not read in participation of this grand bookish event:   Wicked, The Secret History (narrated by Donna Tartt), Woman on the Roof by Mignon G. Eberhart, and Salem’s Lot.


And finally,

READ SALEM’s LOT in October with us!  Watch Melissa’s blog for info and thank Trish for the soon to be revealed badge. I think we will be tweeting with hashtag #SalemReadalong?? maybe (to be updated when I know for sure)

Copyright © 2007-2015. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

I Missed a Spin!

Tis truth to say that I joined the Classics Club mainly because I thought the SPIN idea to be just the coolest. But I missed the latest one and I am most heartbroken. Really, it’s not a big deal; there aren’t any “Classics Police” looking for my failure to participate, so I will just admit to being tardy and participate now.

[Check out this post from the official club website if I have only brought up more questions and you need answers. I intend to plow on as if you know what I am talking about.]


Since I missed the kick off announcement but now already know the number that was chosen (the number is FIVE), I will just use the spin list that I created on the prior spin.

THUS, the _fifth_ book on that list is __(typing this before I actually go look at my list which is linked in the prior sentence)____and I intend to read that by October 23, 2015.

WELL, isn’t THIS interesting…







The fifth book is Mansfield Park! Guess what audiobook I am 80% through already and hope to complete by the end of August?  YES!!  MANSFIELD PARK! 

Isn’t that crazy?! I swear I didn’t know before starting this post. Golly, do I amuse myself.



Perhaps I should just move on and tackle the Classics Meme for August? The question is: “Have you made changes to your list since you first created it? If you added any new titles or removed some, why did you make those changes?”

Yes, yes I have. Now, I’ve only just joined in January of this year so I wasn’t expecting to alter my list so quickly but I am very much a mood-chooser when it comes to which books I read. And with participating in readalongs as they interest me and other challenges, I unabashedly give myself permission to stray from my initial 50. This blog is mine and I do with it what I damn well please, and that includes which books and when. I am a guilt-free blogger.

I have so far NOT kicked any books OFF my list but will only see which books haven’t been read by the time I do check off 50 qualified ‘classics’ in my tracking endeavors. Guess that puts me in the category of being loosey-goosey with that FIFTY. Whatever.

Here’s what I have read that wasn’t on the initial list:

The Winter’s Tale / Shakespeare – Jan 2015 • TO SATISFY a Classics Challenge category

√ The Making of a Marchioness / FHBurnette – Apr2015 • BECAUSE I OWN IT and forgot to put it on my initial 50 (smh)

The Talented Mr. Ripley /PHighsmith June2015 • BECAUSE I got the audiobook on a deal and it sounded good at the time of purchase

Atlas Shrugged / Ayn Rand July2015 • BECAUSE Ti had a readalong, I have always been curious (and I adore long audiobooks)


Assuming I finish Mansfield Park and Things Fall Apart very soon, I will have read 12 classics this year so far. I am thrilled to be ahead of schedule!





Copyright © 2007-2015. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Guests on Earth

Thoughts goebyls Guests on Earth by Lee Smith, 2013, 328 pages

A couple of things. Where is everyone? Well, I am sure if anyone else is asking that and implying me, yep – I am sort of ‘Off the Grid” or UNPLUGGED at the moment, I guess, only because it is tough to get the good wifi on the devices best for post-writing/visiting/commenting while I “be” on vacation, so NEVERMIND.

And, I’m a wimp. I didn’t like this book. But I don’t know HOW to ‘be nice and not like a book’. Which makes it sound like I do know how to be NOT nice and NOT like a book and that’s not quite it.

I wanted to like this book.

This isn’t even a case of high expectations! It is the case of realizing that this author has many fans so she must have SOME competence, but I realize now that I have discovered her too late. Her early books might be good but she might as well have phoned this one in.

I am sad.

It might have gone somewhere, it might have had promise?

And against all the Go Set a Watchman chatter about having an editor with the golden ovaries to say, “Go rework this and bring it back to me and you might have something.”, I suggest someone on the Smith-Team might have suggested this for this book.

It is teased to be about Zelda aka wife to Great Gatsby author F. Scott Fitzgerald. There’s really not that much about her.

It has a lovely LOVELY setting in Asheville NC!  yippee – really, I think I liked the setting best of all.

It brings up too many minor characters that get lost.

Thought I teetered between 2 stars and 4, I am settling on 3 stars but it really disappointed me in story structure. I just don’t have the guts to rate it a 2 star. And I did like the first third or so.

She obviously did her research.

She knows how to string sentences together well.

Descriptive sentences were great.

I struggle with praising the character development.

I am not qualified nor have the write words in my critics-toolbox to say what is exactly so disappointing, but…

I was THRILLED for the first 30 pages! I thought, “Oh goodie, I feel this might be a SOMTHIN’ book!”

But it fell flat.

I truly almost didn’t read the last 30 pages. I was almost about to just drop and walk away.


I just didn’t get the point of it.

I dunno.

I’m just SAD.

BEST QUOTE?  p.85-“He might be sweet as pie, or he might take drunk and start sworping around.”

(Did I only just convince you to read it to find out if you agree?!  crazy, huh?)

The book cover will take you to goodreads where you can read all sorts of LOVE and DARN kind of reviews.


Copyright © 2007-2015. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.


Thoughts heftbylm by Liz Moore, Blackstone Audio 2012, 11 hrs 44 min

Narrated by Kirby Heyborne and Keith Szarabajka

I really enjoyed this. I rated this five slices of lemon pie.

I have read some interesting reviews that mention the ambiguous ending and a disturbing date rape scene. I would like to discuss. If you have read this book, read on and chime in. If you haven’t yet, you can keep reading at your own peril.

Quote:  “… the whole place smelled like lemon and pie.”  –  in Chapter Two

We meet Arthur Opp who is a former professor of English who has not left his house in 10 years while eating and eating and eating himself into a weight estimated between 550 and 600 pounds. He has received contact from a former romantic interest; she was one of his students who had to quit school but became a pen pal who hadn’t corresponded in many years. Arthur decides that this contact should be pursued and makes strides to start ‘moving and improving’ if possible, and it was quite delightful to hear his fears about new acquaintances and situations that impact him on this ‘waking up’.

Another story line is told from the perspective of the son of Arthur’s former penpal/student/love interest. He’s a high school baseball jock hoping for a chance at the big leagues so he can avoid college. His mom is a mess, to put it bluntly.

Even at 80% when the reader KNOWS that these story lines MUST crash or converge or cross OR SOMETHING (all caps to demonstrate how passionately I was worried about this!), it was mind-boggling to speculate how this book would end!  When and how would these story lines tie together?

And thus the ambiguity, because… they almost don’t, not really. But I liked it. I liked it very much, even after a few days after listening to the last word and thinking about it. Even after I listened to that last word and said out loud, “Is that IT?!”

I had feared this would be an ugly cry book. I did cry (gently) at about 95% through or so — When Arthur admits that you don’t get to pick your family and sometimes families suck. So sometimes you have to pick your own substitute family.


Now. The date rape. It didn’t bother me. I mean, sure, it BOTHERS me, and bother is too soft a word for this crime. It’s wrong, it’s scary and it’s wrong-&-scary. I get it. But this scene in this book was realistic and I wasn’t put in that place of objectively confronting my feelings on how the scene played out. (And truthfully, since this was audio, I swear I thought he stopped – maybe in my mind, he did and even though he admits that he sensed her being uncomfortable and he didn’t care, I thought I heard in the telling that he eventually DID stop. But I’m not going to go try and find that place in the audiobook and listen again. I’ll keep my version. Maybe he stopped not out of a conscience to suddenly respect the girl, so that is problematic, true.

I did think that he protested too much to his girlfriend later (thus, only confirming my version of the event, actually) but I want to say to those reviewers on goodreads who had a problem with the date rape scene being too casual and not dealt with in an appropriately severe manner consequentially to the perp, I GET IT.

But I don’t think it shows the author of being lackadaisical to the issue. I think she presented it just like it might happen. Life sucks. Books don’t always get to be the platform for a moral and a lesson. They get to be messy.

This book had charm and grit and attempts to find the light when all you can see is the dark. You don’t have to like the characters; yes, they were flawed. They were real.

I recommend this book. I recommend the audio.

I will read more by this author.


Copyright © 2007-2015. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea

Thoughts aytvimcbych Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler, Gallery Books 2008, 264 pages

FIRST Sentence: I was nine years old and walking myself to school one morning when I heard the unfamiliar sound of a prepubescent boy calling my name.

TRUTH: Her first essay in this collection was my favorite, Blacklisted. About her amazing ability to embellish and think grandiose stories on a dime, Chelsea demonstrates her ability to talk and cajole and invent wild entertaining tales.

It went downhill after this.

I just got bored with her inane over-the-top depravity.

DEPRAVITY: quality of demonstrating an evil and immoral character.

So maybe, evil is a bit strong and misleading. I really wouldn’t call her evil – it’s just all sex and raunchy and well, . . . boring.

Maybe ‘debauched’ is a better word?

DEBAUCHED: to lead away from virtue* or excellence.

Yea, whatever.

I admit. I’ve only seen her show a few times. I thought she was funny. This book wasn’t that funny. Occasionally, a situation was chuckle-worthy but overall, if I chose to dwell on such concepts like ‘regret’, I could easily regret the time I spent with this book.

By the way, a few antonyms for DEBAUCHED are elevate, ennoble and uplift. I need to spend more time with these kinds of words.

Have a nice day!

Enjoy these flowers from my garden: FullSizeRender


* I am in the THICK (~86%) of the ‘speech’ that is looooong in Atlas Shrugged. Might have something to do with my mind-boggling contemplations of virtue and morality, at the moment.

Copyright © 2007-2015. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Big Little Lies

Thoughts bllbylm Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, Amy Einhorn Books / Penguin Group 2014, 460 pages

WHY I read this now:  Cuz I saw that Lisa of Lit & Life was reading it so it might be considered a case of a stalking-readalong. ha! I needed something different and fun to contrast while reading Atlas Shrugged.

FIRST Sentence/s: “That doesn’t sound like a school trivia night,” said Mrs. Patty Ponder to Marie Antoinette. “That sounds like a riot.”

What’s it ABOUT: Parents who meet at Kindergarten Orientation end up choosing sides over a bullying issue that ends up with someone being MURDERED!!  We know at the start that someone dies, but we don’t know who.

What’s GOOD: Everything? Funny and insightful balanced with serious stuff. Moriarity has the best characters and they say the darndest things. The plot placing with the slow reveal is excellent. I never quite had a grasp on who I could trust – it was always a bit unsettling and yet had many laughable moments. All the unknowns get settled and though murder doesn’t suggest a happy ending exactly, this one was satisfying.

What’s NOT so good: I can’t think of a thing. Having read Moriarty’s The Husband’s Secret earlier this year, I can confidently say that this one is even better.

FINAL Thoughts: Do not dismiss this as chick lit. The tendency might be to think this is light whodunnit — chick lit? Pretty cover? I think this does fit the women’s fiction category. Oh bother. WHO CARES? Why the genrefication crap? Anyway — Moriarty tackles heavy stuff in this without ever being heavy-handed. I LOVE books that do the balance well.

Make me laugh, be snarky & smart, tackle something important. Add a few feisty princesses and BINGO.

Other REVIEWs:

Michelle at That’s What She Read says, “Ms. Moriarty deftly combines the serious with the frivolous to make her story enjoyable without losing the impact of her key messages.”

Melissa at Avid Reader’s Musings concludes, “The author makes the characters come alive. She can deal with dark subject matter without making the whole book feel dark.”

Write Meg! gives it a 4.5 out of 5: “This is contemporary, domestic fiction that shimmers and shines; it’s engrossing, well-written, effortless to read. “

RATING: Five slices of pie. Five slices of Pink Lemonade Vanilla Pie with Salty Potato Chip Crust. Oh. Yea.

Breyers Summer Spring recipe shoot click on the pretty picture above to go to the recipe…


Did I convince you to try this? Anyone want me to send my copy? I will have a drawing if more than one of you wants it.




Copyright © 2007-2015. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Lost Lake

Thoughts llbysaa Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen, St. Martens Press 2014, 294 pages

I am seriously behind in reading the wonderful books by this lovely author! How did I allow to this happen!?

So, there is just something about an SAA book that I know I will love and I always do. Nothing out of place, always gives me all the feels, and I can be safe in knowing that my time inside the pages of these books will be wonderful.

There. I don’t really need to say any more.

If you don’t know of Ms. Allen (or Ms. Addison Allen – not sure if I need that middle name or not? Feel free to correct me to which form is best.) IF you don’t know of this author, click on the book cover and see what the goodreads folk have to say. Or do your own research or jump in and try one.

Have a lovely day.

Read for book club – meeting next week.

pieratingsmlRating:  Five slices of vanilla pie.

p.228 – “Eby laughed before she could stop herself. It was so pie-in-the-sky, like some great scheme a child would make up.”

p.280 – “Doctors rarely traveled to the End of the World, because payment was never a given, not even in the form of vanilla pie or a burlap bag of walnuts.”

Have you had vanilla pie? Do you have a recipe to recommend? I don’t think I’ve attempted a vanilla pie, I MUST try one, I must! (I suppose it is really just a banana cream without the bananas…)

Ken Haedrich has a Vanilla Cream Pie in his PIE book… piebook


Copyright © 2007-2015. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Bad Feminist

Thoughts bfbyrg Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay, Harper 2014, 320 pages

I often feel like a bad feminist. I’m not doing it right. My example is piss poor. I often feel unworthy to declare my feminist label.

Which is why this book is fabulous. No one can be the ultimate perfect feminist!

I know many Christians who certainly aren’t perfect and yet have no doubts to claim being Christian. It really is almost the second line of the ‘faith profession’ if you think about it. “I have sinned; forgive me.” and wa la! GRACE. And not to say this excuses bad behavior, I know. This post isn’t to defend my Christianity (and I am one), the point is that I should NOT be embarrassed to stand up and say,

“Yes, I’m a feminist.”

And I usually do, but…

I REALLY enjoyed Gay’s collection of essays on her life and her thoughts, her complications and her contradictions. Her courage to say these things loudly and proudly.

This book made me think about a lot of things. Maybe ALL of the things. I didn’t always agree but I appreciate the new viewpoints on the issues. I learned a few words, I learned much more about Scrabble than I knew I needed to know, I was introduced to many cool sounding books* that have made it to my tbr, and thus,



* Kate Zembrano’s Green Girl or Heroines, anyone?

Copyright © 2007-2015. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

I prefer pi.


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